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    Gigantic: MOBA meets third-person shooter in this imaginative genre mash-up

    Before diving into our hands-on demo of Gigantic, a free-to-play, five-on-five action game that mixes elements from the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) and third-person shooter genres, creative director James Phinney describes it as “fast-paced.” As we soon learn behind the lightning-quick dagger swipes of Tripp, one of 16 playable heroes, he’s not kidding.

    A ninja-like rogue whose legs move as fast as her blades, she’s quick, stealthy and lethal a killer combo that’s nicely balanced by her inability to absorb much damage. Upon launching ourselves off a jump-pad at the match’s start, we hit the ground running, literally. We waste no time diving into an encounter and sharpening Tripp’s steel on the skull of an opponent. While the element of surprise allows us to gut the goon with little effort, his teammate a towering, tank-like chap doesn’t take kindly to us turning his buddy into giblets. We suffer a few strikes from the armoured hulk’s crushing, fire-imbued claw, but trigger Tripp’s Flash Dance ability before we become one with the dirt; the life-saving trick grants us temporary invisibility, allowing us to run away and take refuge in a nearby cave.

    As the match moves forward at a pulse-quickening pace, we become increasingly comfortable with this flay-and-flee strategy. While our confidence occasionally leaves us in a lifeless heap, our ratcheting kill count grants us skill points to be invested into a variety of character-shaping active abilities and passive perks. In addition to her default dagger strikes, Tripp can toss the death-dealers for ranged attacks, and unleash them in a furious flurry dubbed the ‘Bladestorm’. While our demo is spent behind the blades of the cloaked killer, Tripp represents just one of Gigantic’s capable heroes. As Phinney explains, offering an expansive, varied cast of characters is how he and his team hope to attract gamers of all stripes, not just MOBA enthusiasts. “One of the big things that we have done is try to build characters for people with different gaming backgrounds, skill sets, and play-styles,” he says. “There are heroes that play just like shooter characters, then there are ones that are more about interesting skill interactions, and some that are like fast-paced brawlers.”
    Whatever your preferred play style, your character selection doesn’t pigeonhole you
    Whatever your preferred play style, your initial character selection doesn’t necessarily pigeonhole you. While you’re certainly welcome to progress your character along a traditional class-based path, Phinney says the game’s malleable upgrade system offers plenty of opportunity to mould your hero however you like. “Every time you level up, you’re getting skill points that you can use, and the upgrades are branching…they can actually dramatically change how the skills work.” Citing beastly archer Voden as an example, he elaborates: “He has a very diverse set of skills, including one that summons a decoy version of himself. You can upgrade this so that the decoy becomes more like a turret, or you can upgrade it so that you can summon him at a distance and swap places with him.”

    On top of encouraging players to experiment with different characters, the multiple levels of branching upgrades make it easier to build a well-rounded team. Because Gigantic is a bit of a genre mash-up, its moment-to-moment action and varied objectives call for more than just players who can create corpses. While thinning the opposing team’s ranks certainly increases the odds in your favour, victory ultimately comes from killing their Guardian. Each team has one of these AI behemoths, and protecting your oversized pet while attempting to tame the other team’s into extinction is as important as eliminating adversaries. The real wrinkle, though, is how you actually siphon the life from a Guardian; the towering monsters take damage when wounded, but only another Guardian can set them up for the kill. They do this by powering-up and rampaging across the map, an act triggered by players earning kills.

    Couple this complex loop with the fact you can also control the map by summoning smaller ally creatures, and it seems Gigantic will be taxing our strategic minds as much as our twitchy trigger fingers when it lands like an earth-rattling hoof later this year.

    Crossing the streams
    What ‘cross-platform’ means to Xbox One owners
    Gigantic players will have a single account across both Xbox One and Windows 10, meaning they can go back and forth between the two platforms and access any in-game progression, purchases or accolades they’ve earned Additionally, fans on both platforms will be able to compete and co-operate with each other, assuming all participants agree to the cross-platform match.

    Release Dates: Autumn 2015

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